Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Bilbo Baggins, the most adventurous hobbit of the Shire, plans to celebrate his 111th birthday. His old friend Gandalf the Grey, a wizard with special control over fire, tries to restrain him from using his magic ring to vanish at the end of the party. Gandalf is disturbed, for he suspects the ring of being the One Ring forged by Sauron, the Dark Lord, in the volcanic fires of Mount Doom. This ring gives long life but corrupts its user. Even Bilbo, who gained it without losing pity, begins to show signs of its evil influence. On his departure, however, after his spectacular vanishing, he leaves his property, reluctantly including the ring, to his nephew Frodo. Gandalf warns Frodo of its dangers and advises that he take it from the Shire.
Frodo leaves the Shire, accompanied by his loyal servant Sam Gamgee and two of his cousins, Merry and Pippin. Pursued by fearful Black Riders, they narrowly escape destruction in the Old Forest, and they are rescued by jovial, earthy Tom Bombadil, who proves to be immune to the ring’s power. He sends them on their way refreshed.
At Bree, they meet a mysterious ranger called Strider and find a letter from Gandalf urging them to go to Rivendell with Strider, whose real name is Aragorn. On their fourth night out of Bree, they are attacked by Black Riders. In terror, Frodo puts on the ring and becomes invisible to his friends but visible and vulnerable to the Riders, Sauron’s Ringwraiths, whose leader stabs...
(The entire section is 1149 words.)
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